MEDIA RELEASE: Wolf Lake Coalition Releasing New Report

May 16, 2012

MEDIA RELEASE: Wolf Lake Coalition Releasing New Report

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IMMEDIATE RELEASE                    Wed. May 16, 2012

Key decision to be made on the fate of the Wolf Lake old growth forest: Wolf Lake Coalition urges the Ontario government to do the right thing

New report documents compelling reasons to protect Wolf Lake and exposes a two decade record of errors and inaction

Greater Sudbury – Today the Wolf Lake Coalition is releasing a new report documenting compelling reasons to protect the Wolf Lake old growth forest. The report also exposes a shocking record of inaction that has left the world’s largest ancient red pine forest open to mining 25 years after the MNR’s own forester identified the need to protect it. 

A press conference will be held Wednesday, May 16, 9:30 a.m., at Memorial Park to release the report. Copies of the report will be delivered in person to the offices of Minister Bartolucci, Mayor Matichuck, Cindy Blancher-Smith (Dir. Mineral Dev. and Lands Branch/Dir. Mine Rehab.) and Tony Scarr (Provincial Mining Recorder).

Ontario is poised to make a major decision on the fate of the Wolf Lake ancient forest on May 31 as it chooses whether to renew a mining lease in the old growth for a further 21 years.  If the lease is renewed the area’s critically endangered ecosystem could become a mine, should a viable mineral find be made.  If the lease is allowed to lapse the 300 year old pines under that lease will automatically gain full protection as park land, as promised in 1999.

The report’s findings include hard evidence of:

(1) The unique ecological value of the area
- Old growth red pine forests exist on only 0.3% of the Sudbury Forest, and 0.02% of the Nipissing Forest. 

(2) On-going damage from mining exploration activity
- Mining exploration at Wolf Lake has destroyed popular campsites, carved heavy machinery tracks through the old growth, knocked down ancient pines, and run oily drill rigs through pristine creeks. 

(3) A history of errors and inaction
- A majority of the Wolf Lake Old Growth Forest Reserve (F175) area was staked for mining after the old growth was put off limits to logging in 1987.  Nearly half was staked after the 1999 promise by Premier Mike Harris to protect Wolf Lake in a provincial park. - F175 mining claims have been repeatedly extended by the Minister of Northern Development and Mines even when none of the annual work required for renewal was done.

“It is unacceptable that our last, best ancient red pine forest is still at risk of mining 25 years after Ontario’s forester called for protection,” said David Sone of Earthroots, speaking on behalf of the Wolf Lake Coalition.  “If Ontario does not act now, they may close the window on protecting Wolf Lake for another two decades.  It is irresponsible to wait any longer to protect this unique and irreplaceable forest.”  

In 1999, the government of Ontario promised to protect the 300 year old Wolf Lake ancient pines located in the northeast corner of Greater Sudbury.  The Wolf Lake Coalition ( comprises 30 Sudbury-area, provincial and national organizations and businesses. The Coalition calls on the government of Ontario to honour the 13 year old promise to permanently protect Wolf Lake.

“Old growth forests are extremely important as habitat for rare wildlife, storehouses of genetic information, and records of our changing climate," explained renowned old growth ecologist Dr. Peter Quinby. ”Allowing mining at Wolf Lake is a very short sighted policy that puts our best remaining example of this rare ancient forest ecosystem at risk."

"This red pine old growth forest is a unique ecological treasure right in our backyard," said Naomi Grant of the Coalition for a Liveable Sudbury.  "Not only does this make us incredibly fortunate to be able to experience and share this special place, but it also gives us a responsibility to ensure future generations can do the same.  Places like this make Sudbury an amazing place to live."

Red pine is one of Ontario’s most iconic tree species; a signature of our cherished northern landscape. Ancient red pine forests once covered much of north-eastern North America, including what is now downtown Sudbury. Extensive logging and mining have eliminated these ancient forests on all but 1.2% of their original extent, making them a critically endangered ecosystem.

The Wolf Lake ancient red pine forest is by far the largest remaining example of this disappearing ecosystem - more than triple the size of the next largest remnant.  There are two mining leases and dozens of mining claims in the Wolf Lake area.